IGUAZU FALLS, Brazil — From above, the Iguazu Falls resemble a massive hole punched in a river and surrounded by jungle. Spray from the falls douses the nearby viewing areas where some tourists don rain ponchos while others take off their shirts and dance and hug in the drenching mist.
Japanese tourist Hiromi Kanetake summed up the feeling: "I'm so excited that my tears are mixing with the river water that floats in the air. I'm very happy that I came from so far away with my son Takayuki to see this."
From walkways and bridges, viewers can count about 270 water falls almost 100 meters (330 feet) high.
Spaniards came across the Iguazu Falls in 1541. In Guarani, its name means "big water." The falls are on the border between Misiones province in Argentina and Parana in Brazil.
Local indigenous legend has it that serpent god Boi, furious over a broken heart, created the falls by shattering the Iguazu river's flow to prevent the maiden Naipu from escaping in a canoe with her lover Taroba. The legend says the rainbows that grace the waters are the souls of Naipu and Taroba reuniting.
The falls are part of one of the world's largest reservoirs of fresh water, known as the Guarani Aquifer.
They are in the middle of thick jungle that has more than 1,000 plant and hundreds of animal species.
Millions of tourists visit the falls each year on both sides of the border.